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Detroit Pistons sold

Apr 8, 2011
(courtesy Detroit Pistons)

 

The Associated Press reports a Los Angeles financier is the new owner of the NBA's Detroit Pistons. 

Billionaire investor Tom Gores has agreed to buy the Detroit Pistons and other properties. The tentative deal announced Friday must be approved by the NBA.  It includes the team, The Palace of Auburn Hills and DTE Energy Music Theatre. Gores is buying the properties from Karen Davidson, who became the owner after her husband, Bill, died in March 2009. Gores is the chairman and CEO of Platinum Equity.

If you’re not a Michigan football fan, you probably haven’t heard of Vada Murray, but you might have seen his picture.

It’s one of the iconic images of Michigan football, along with Tom Harmon standing in his mud-soaked, torn-apart jersey, Ol’ 98, and Desmond Howard diving to catch a touchdown against Notre Dame -- two Heisman Trophy winners, winning big games.

But the photo I’m talking about depicts Vada Murray and Tripp Welborne soaring skyward to block a field goal.

They were a kicker’s nightmare, but even when they got a hand on the ball, it simply denied their opponent three points -- not the kind of thing that wins you a Heisman Trophy or an NFL contract.

They don’t even keep records of blocked kicks.

But, over two decades later, something about that photo still resonates, perhaps because it captures their effort, their intensity, their passion – all of it spent just to give their teammates a slightly better chance for success.

The state’s Natural Resources Commission holds a discussion today on deer baiting. The commission is set to decide in June whether to lift the baiting ban in the Lower Peninsula. Wildlife biologists say feeding deer causes them to congregate unnaturally, and that it helps spread disease.

But Don Inman – a retired conservation officer – thinks some baiting is okay. He says large feed piles are a problem, but a small amount of bait is not.  

"From my experience and all of my friends too who have hunted in this area and hunted when baiting was legal, we seldom saw more than four deer. We put out a coffee can and spread it around. "

The state banned deer baiting in the Lower Peninsula in 2008 after a deer in Kent County tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Scoreboards at the University of Michigan’s premier sports venues are getting a major upgrade. The U of M Athletic Department announced today that it has signed a deal to replace the aging scoreboards at Michigan Stadium, Crisler Arena and Yost Ice Arena with state of the art LED displays.  

In a written statement, UM Athletic Director David Brandon says the department is excited.

“Our goal is to set a new, higher standard for our fan’s viewing experience and the game day atmosphere we create in our venues. These boards will be an important first step in achieving that goal.” 

Demolition of the old video boards at the Big House began in March.   New, larger LED video screens will be installed in both end zones by this August.

The total cost of the project is expected to be less than $20 million dollars.

The Detroit Tigers started off their 2011 season on a cold, dreary day in New York. The disappointing day ended in a disappointing 6 to 3 loss to the Yankees.  

The Associated Press report recounts the game's highlights:

Curtis Granderson hit a go-ahead homer leading off the seventh inning and Mark Teixeira had a three-run shot off Justin Verlander, lifting New York over the Detroit Tigers 6-3 Thursday in the first regular-season game played in the Bronx in March. CC Sabathia pitched six workmanlike innings, Derek Jeter added a sacrifice fly in the seventh using his new stride-less swing and Mariano Rivera, wearing his socks high for perhaps the first time, earned his first save and 560th of his career. Newcomers Russell Martin and Rafael Soriano did their part as the Yankees got off to a quick start on a gray, blustery, 42-degree day.

CBSSports.com is reporting that the final deal to sell the Detroit Pistons will be completed by the middle of April.  The NBA franchise has been on the block since the death of longtime owner Bill Davidson. There have been many suitors, but it appears the winner is billionaire Tom Gores.  

CBSSports senior writer Ken Berger says the sale could be made official in a few weeks. 

Word in league circles is that negotiations to sell the Pistons to billionaire Tom Gores are far enough along to expect the matter to come to a vote by the Board of Governors April 14-15 in New York. League approval will be a welcome development for the organization, whose basketball operations department was paralyzed by the proposed sale. The Pistons are one of a handful of teams not to complete a single roster transaction this season. 

One stumbling block that has slowed the sale of the Pistons is the question 'How much is the franchise actually worth?' Forbes recently reported the value of the franchise has dropped about 25%.

Dave Brandon, for better or worse, was tied to his hire as Michigan football head coach, Brady Hoke.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Brady Hoke signed a six year contract Monday, that could average out to $3.25 million a year.  The Associated Press reports Hoke will be paid $2 million in the first year of the contract: 

Hoke will be paid $2 million this year and his base salary will increase by $100,000 each season. Hoke will earn a $1.5 million "stay bonus" after his third year and another $1.5 million "stay bonus" if he is still leading college football's winningest program in the sixth season of his contract.  

The Associated Press also quoted U of M Athletic Director Dave Brandon expressing confidence in Hoke.

"It's a big job with a lot of expectations and we feel very good about how much we're compensating him to help us reach those expectations." 

Brady Hoke replaced Rich Rodriguez who lost the Wolverine head coaching job after three lackluster seasons and an NCAA investigation. Hoke was an assistant coach under Lloyd Carr before becoming a successful head coach at Ball State and San Diego State University.

 Hoke issued this statement on his new contract:

The contract was handled by my agent and the University. My focus has been on the football program and will continue to be on making this program the best in America. I couldn’t tell you what’s in the contract other than my signature. The University offered Laura and I an opportunity to coach at Michigan and that’s been my dream. Nothing will change my focus.

The Michigan State University Athletic Department has cut ties with a booster club under investigation by the state lottery commission. WILX reported last night that state lottery officials have been investigating the Downtown Coaches Club. The Lansing TV station says questions have been raised by 50/50 raffles run by the club and how the money was distributed.  

The Lansing State Journal says MSU Athletic Director Mark Hollis says it is cutting ties with the club.  

For several weeks, we have been aware that the Downtown Coaches Club had some financial reporting issues as well the review being conducted by the Michigan State Lottery Commission....At that time, the Michigan State Athletics Department immediately suspended all activities with the organization.

The Michigan Lottery Commission is not commenting on its investigation.

user skoch 3 / wikimedia commons

A lot of this story, you already know:

Five super-talented freshmen come to Michigan, and by mid-season the Wolverines become the first team in NCAA history to start all five freshmen. They get to the final game of March Madness before losing to defending national champion Duke. The next year, they make it to the finals again, but lose to North Carolina when their best player, Chris Webber, calls a time-out they don’t have. 

Along the way they make baggy shorts and black socks fashionable, and import rap music and trash talk from the inner-city playground to the mainstream of college basketball.

It’s been that way ever since.

Paul Nicholson / Flickr

Will the real next Spartan hockey coach please stand up?

After conflicting reports, it seems as if the job may go to CCHA commissioner Tom Anastos. From WILX-TV:

Former Spartan Tom Anastos will be announced as the next Spartan hockey coach at a 4 p.m. press conference at Munn Ice Arena. Anastos played for Ron Mason at Michigan State from 1981-85 scoring 60 goals and 143 points in his 4-year career.

Over the last 13 years he has served as the commissioner of the CCHA. He currently serves as the president of the Hockey Commissioner's Association. They created College Hockey Inc. which is responsible for growing the sport of college hockey.

Anastos was the head coach at the University of Michigan-Dearborn from 1987-1990. He was then as assistant to Mason at Michigan State from 1990-1992. The 46-year old will be just the 6th coach in Michigan State history.

Anastos emerged from a field of approximately twenty candidates, including Danton Cole, a former Waverly High School hockey star, who many believed was set to replace for MSU's hockey coach Rick Comley.

Comley guided the Spartans to a national championship in 2007, and is the fourth all-time winningest coach.

Update:

Last Friday, Jalen Rose defended some of the comments that he made in the documentary "The Fab Five." Rose claims that Duke did not and would not recruit players like him, and also addresses his use of the term "Uncle Tom," which Rose used in the documentary and which has been a source of ongoing controversy.

Here is Rose, talking about the things he said in the documentary:

"As a seventeen-year old recruit, that's exactly how I felt."

Above: Duke's Nolan Smith performs a crossover on Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr.

The Michigan Wolverines crushed the Tennessee Volunteers in their opening round game in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.   The game was close at halftime.   But U of M cruised in the second half to a 75-45 victory.   

The Wolverines will play Sunday against the winner of the matchup between 16th seeded Hampton and  top seeded Duke.   

U of M is the only team with Michigan ties making to the second round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.   Michigan State lost it's first round game Thursday night.   Oakland University lost a close game earlier this afternoon.    

Oakland University's Golden Grizzlies kept it close.  But, in the end, the Texas Longhorns prevailed.  The 13th  seeded Golden Grizzlies rallied throughout the first round tournament matchup with the 4th seeded Longhorns.   However, Texas pulled away in the final minute to win 85 to 81. 

 

House Committee on Education and the Workforce Democrats

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says NCAA basketball teams that are not on track to graduate at least half of their players should not be allowed to compete in the NCAA Tournament.

Duncan used to play basketball himself. He says his personal experience is what is driving his call for the measures.

Duncan wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post:

As a kid on the South Side of Chicago who loved basketball, I got to see the best and the worst of college sports. I spent time on the court with inner-city players who had been used and dumped by their universities. When the ball stopped bouncing, they struggled to find work and had difficult lives. Some died early. The dividing line for success was between those who went to college and got their degrees, and those who did not. If a team fails to graduate even half of its players, how serious are the institution and coach about preparing their student-athletes for life?

Duncan wrote that 10 men's teams in the NCAA basketball tournament are not on track to graduate more than half their players.

user blakjakdavy / Flickr

On Monday I drove a couple hours to see a high school basketball game in Vicksburg, Michigan – about 20 minutes south of Kalamazoo.  The Class C regional semi-final pitted Schoolcraft against Fennville.  Both schools were undefeated – but that wasn’t why I was going.

Two weeks ago Fennville lost its star center, Wes Leonard, just minutes after the last regular season contest. Leonard had made the game winning shot, and the Fennville fans rushed the court and hoisted their hero onto their shoulders.

Then, just seconds later, the truly unthinkable happened: Wes Leonard’s enlarged heart gave out, and he collapsed, right on the court.  Before midnight, the town pastor emerged from the hospital to tell the crowd Wes Leonard had died.

The Michigan State Spartans tip off their 2011 NCAA Men’s basketball tourney tonight in Tampa against the UCLA Bruins.    The tenth seeded Spartans stumbled into the tourney compiling a 19 win-14 loss season.   The seventh seeded Bruins posted a slightly better 22 and 10 record. 

(official White House photo)

The NCAA Men’s basketball tournament begins in earnest tomorrow.   But one very well-known basketball fan expects no team with ties to Michigan will reach the Sweet 16.  

The White House released President Obama’s brackets today.  

(mountlebanonlouisiana.com)

The State House Natural Resources, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation committee tomorrow will consider legislation to allow young children to hunt in Michigan.  Michigan currently allows children as young as 10 to hunt with a bow and as young as 12 to use a firearm to hunt deer. 

Peter Pettalia is a state representative from Presque Island in northern lower Michigan.  His bill would eliminate the age limit, as along as the young hunter has an adult with them.  

“It gives parents the right to determine when their children are ready in their eyes to safely hunt.   So myself, if I have a grandchild I believe could carry a weapon to hunt, it gives me the opportunity to decide that.”

Pettalia says allowing children to take part may help reverse the decline in the number of hunters in Michigan.   

“We have thousands, hundreds of thousands of acres of huntable land, yet we have the worst hunter recruitment rate in the nation and dwindling hunter retention numbers.”  

Pettalia says he doubts allowing young children to hunt with their parents or adult mentors will increase hunting accidents.   

Cseeman / Flickr

It’s time for March Madness, which means the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament begins this week.

Seven Big Ten teams made the cut.

No. 8 seed the University of Michigan will play No. 9 seed Tennessee on Friday. Michigan State University earned a No. 10 seed and will play No. 7 seed UCLA on Thursday.

Oakland University also made the tournament. Oakland will play the Texas Longhorns on Friday.

user johntex / wikimedia commons

It looks like Jim Tressel has gotten himself into a bit of hot water.

That’s why his boss, athletic director Gene Smith, flew back to make sure everyone said they were “taking responsibility” – a phrase which changed some time in the last decade, and now means the exact opposite.

It was fine theater.  

(Ohio State University athletic dept.)

Ohio State University head football coach Jim Tressel is facing a two game suspension and a quarter million dollar fine for failing to tell university officials about possible NCAA rules violations. 

Tressel admitted that he didn’t tell university officials that some of his players were part of a federal criminal investigation.  None of the players were the subject of the investigation. Tressel knew about the investigation last April.  But, he didn’t say anything until the university was contacted by the U.S. Justice Department in December.

The Justice Department was trying to confirm whether Buckeye memorabilia in the possession of a Columbus tattoo shop owner was obtained legally. Several players, including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, admitted exchanging the memorabilia for tattoos. The players were given 5 game suspensions next season. Though, they were allowed to play in the 2011 Sugar Bowl.

OSU Athletic Director Gene Smith says it was only after that that university officials learned of emails that coach Tressel received in April informing him of the federal probe. Smith says the university was about to complete its internal investigation and send the results to the NCAA, when word of Tressel’s actions were reported by Yahoo Sports.

Tressel says his decision not to take action back in April was with the players’ interest in mind, not the OSU football program. SBNATION produced a transcript of last night's news conference.

The NCAA is reviewing Ohio State’s self-imposed penalties. The college sports governing body may accept OSU’s self-punishment or impose penalties of its own.

Update 7:03 p.m.

Ohio State University football coach Jim Tressel suspended for two games. Tressel did not report potential NCAA rules violates in a timely manner to OSU officials.

Original post 4:24 p.m.

Ohio State University has called a 7pm news conference to address news reports that head football coach Jim Tressel was aware of potential NCAA rules violations months before university officials learned about them.

The violations involved five Buckeye players, including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor. The players allegedly traded memorabilia with a Columbus tattoo parlor owner in exchange for tattoos.

Yahoo Sports reported this week that Tressel was first notified of the possible NCAA violations last April.  

But it was December before any action was taken involving the players. They were suspended from playing during a handful of games next fall. Though they were allowed to play in 2011 Sugar Bowl.  

SBNATION reports Tressel's contract does include penalties if his program commits NCAA violations, including termination of his contract. Neither Tressel or university officials have commented on the allegations made in the Yahoo Sports article.  

OSU president E. Gordon Gee did tell reporters in Columbus that the NCAA has been notified.

OSU athletic director Gene Smith was scheduled to be in Indianapolis this evening, but he has flown back to Columbus to take part in tonight's news conference with Gee and Tressel.

Steve Johnson / Flickr

The Fennville boys basketball team suffered an unbelievable tragedy last week when their star player, Wes Leonard, died from a heart attack minutes after hitting a game winning shot in overtime.

It was later found that the sixteen year old had an enlarged heart.

Now, the Fennville Blackhawks (20-0) have decided to play on despite their immense sadness.

From ESPN.com:

The Fennville team will play Monday night against Lawrence High in the Class C district playoffs. The game has been moved to Hope College in Holland.

The Sporting News says the game was moved from Lawrence High School to Hope College to accommodate an expected large crowd and large media presence.

The Lawrence High School coach spoke with ESPN about how he expects the Fennville boys team to play. From the Sporting News:

Lawrence coach Curt Meat told ESPN of Monday’s game, “Either they’re going to come out and break down and be terrible, and I’d hate to see that … or they’re going to come out and they’re going to have angels on their shoulders and really light it up.”

Drew Sharp has an opinion piece in today's Detroit Free Press. He quoted a statement from Fennville superintendent Dirk Weeldreyer talking about Lawrence High School decision to change the venue:

"They have been more than gracious and accommodating in making this decision. By doing so, they are relinquishing home-court advantage. We also recognize that Lawrence has been cast in an unenviable position and must feel as if the world will be rooting against them. Rather than focusing on the outcome of Monday's game, our joint goal is to make it a fitting tribute to the memory of Wes Leonard."

Wes Leonard’s funeral is scheduled for Tuesday morning at Holland's Christ Memorial Church.

Visitation is today from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. at Fennville United Methodist Church.

Here's a video from WMMT TV in Grand Rapids:

User shockmotion / Flickr

The Associated Press and USAToday are reporting that a 16 year old Fennville student died last night after making a game-making layup. From the AP:

The Fennville Schools superintendent says the basketball player who died last night after making a game-winning shot was "the quintessential all-American kid."

It's still not clear what caused the death of 16-year-old Wes Leonard, who collapsed on the court after making a last-second layup in Fenville's 57-55 win over Bridgman. The victory capped Fenville's undefeated season.

Leonard fell to the ground after teammates and fans rushed the court. Rescuers performed CPR, but he was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

The junior was also the quarterback of the school's football team.

Grief counselors are on hand at the school today.

Jeramey Jannene / Flickr

Eastern Michigan University had a very strong basketball team in 1996.

The Eagles were so good they stunned the Duke Blue Devils in the first round of the NCAA tournament, 75-60.

They had nation’s second-leading scorer - and their program listed his height at 5-foot-8 inches.

This, I had to see. 

I watched Earl Boykins and his teammates torch Central Michigan, Western Michigan and Ball State.

flickr

The city of Detroit could face an economic hit this fall if the National Football League and its players don’t agree on a new contract.  How big an impact is not clear.  

The current contract between NFL owners and the players association expires at midnight.   Without a deal, Ford Field in Detroit will sit empty during the Lions scheduled pre-season and regular season home games this fall.

A study commissioned by the players association says $20 million is spent on average in NFL cities during regular season home games.  In some cities, much more is spent.  The Christian Science Monitor reports small businesses may pay a big price. 

Jesse David is a senior vice president with Edgeworth Economics, the company that did the study.  David admits people will probably spend money on some form of entertainment, whether or not they go to a game, but they may not spend it in Detroit.  

“It may be that someone else, somewhere else sees their income go up…but there’s still going to be an effect on a group of people.”

Even if they miss tonight’s deadline, NFL owners and players still have several months before games will have to be canceled or rescheduled.

Derek Hatfield / Flickr

Bob Probert was known as an "enforcer" in the game of hockey. The guy who had your back.

If an opposing player started something, Probert was there to exact a penalty on the other player with his fists.

He played in the NHL for sixteen seasons, including a long stint with the Detroit Red Wings.

Probert died last year at the age of 45 after suffering chest pains.

The New York Times published a piece this morning on the discovery that Probert suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) - a brain trauma disease that has also been found in many former NFL players.

After learning about CTE, Probert told his wife he wanted his brain donated to researchers.

Probert's widow, Dani Probert, is quoted in the Times article:

"I remember joking with him, ‘Wouldn’t your brain make a nice specimen?’ ” she said. “He started questioning whether he would have it himself. He told me that he wanted to donate his brain to the research when he died. Who would have thought that six months later it would be happening?"

His brain was donated after his death last year.

Researchers at Boston University said they found evidence of CTE in Probert's brain.

One of the researcher's noted they couldn't isolate where Probert's exposure to head trauma came from:

“How much is the hockey and how much is the fighting, we don’t really know,” said Dr. Robert Cantuco-director of the Boston University center and a prominent neurosurgeon in the area of head trauma in sports. “We haven’t definitely established that the skills of hockey as a sport lead to a certain percentage of participants developing C.T.E. But it can happen to hockey players, and while they’re still relatively young.”

Probert's wife believes it came from all the checking and hits in the game itself. She did note that in his last years, Probert did show signs of "behavior uncharacteristic to him, especially memory loss and a tendency to lose his temper while driving."

Wherever the brain trauma came from, the NHL will likely take a closer look at protecting its players, the same way the NFL has been creating new rules to cut down on head trauma in its sport.

If they're successful in better protecting their players, the sports have reporters from the New York Times to thank.

Times reporters, like Alan Schwartz, have been exposing the effects of head trauma in sports for the last several years.

adwriter / creative commons

Baseball lovers and preservation advocates are working to win historic designation for a Hamtramck ballpark that was home to Negro League games in the 1930s.

The Detroit Stars played at Hamtramck Stadium between 1930 and 1937.

Gary Gillette is a baseball writer and and editor of the ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia. He says Hamtramck Stadium is one of only five Negro League sites that have survived.

Hockey net.
Dean Michaud / Flickr

Whenever I talk to a high school coach who quit, they always say the kids were great, but the parents drove them crazy.

It doesn’t matter what sport.  

But when I coached the Ann Arbor Huron High School hockey team, I was lucky.

Yes, getting to know the players was the best part, and now, seven years after I stepped down, I’m going to their weddings.

What I didn’t expect, though, was becoming lifelong friends with their parents, too.  

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